The hydrogen economy has always been a bit like a mirage in the desert – hanging enticingly before us, never seeming to get any nearer. In some ways, this is surprising as it has so many advantages as an energy carrier. There’s lots of it, it produces only water vapour when it is burned, it can be stored for long periods of time – unlike energy stored in batteries– and it’s flexible. It can be used to produce electricity in fuel cells, it can be used as a transport fuel either by being burnt or in fuel cells and it can be injected into gas grids and so used for heating. When renewable energy is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, it is an emissions-free fuel. The technology is well-known, long-standing and proven. There are signs that hydrogen is slowly starting to gain traction. In Germany (and coming soon in UK) Alstom has launched the world’s first hydrogen-powered trains, while South Korea’s Hyundai is to test a 1,000-strong fleet of hydrogen trucks in Switzerland and Scotland is building the world’s first hydrogen-powered ferry. As well as being a long-lasting store of energy and its utility in heating, transport and power, it is a solution to the problem of what to do with surplus renewable power that would otherwise be spilled; it adds weight to the case for carbon capture and storage; it can help oil and gas companies to make use of their existing infrastructure – whether that is fuel stations or gas pipelines; and it provides a solution to issues such as air pollution and how to fuel long distance heavy transport in an environmentally-friendly way.
Energy Post 11th Jan 2019 read more »